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Chivalry in Research Paper for Literature Classes

Chivalry in research papers for literature classes includes looking at the concept from many angles. Some common world literature course discussions on chivalry often look at the topic from the era of the Middle Ages, when chivalry was experiencing its height.

World Literature readings that include the theme of chivalry include the following:

The word chivalry brings forth romantic feelings in both men and women around the world.  Write a research paper or essay on chivalry. Your literature research paper could discuss Knights in shining armor, damsels in distress, and fair play all often come to mind.  Or your research may point out that to others, chivalry brings other thoughts to mind that leaves them of with less idealized images.  You could write your research paper on Chivalry as a reminder of how many stereotypes about women began and the sexes, stereotypes that persist to this day.  After all chivalry emphasizes the helpless woman who needs the brave knight in shining armor to save her and protect her.  Chivalry is one of the major sources of even the more modern concept of how the gentleman behaves.


Chivalry in Europe

Chivalry developed among the knights of medieval Europe.  The Feudal system of governing, military virtues, newly adopted Christian virtues, and the Arthurian legends all contributed to the creation of chivalry.  Some common aspects of chivalry are honesty, loyalty, courage, justice, prowess, faith, nobility, generosity, and humility.  The word chivalry actually derives from a French word chevalier that means "horseman" or "knight".  Courtly love also played a role in the development chivalry.  Chivalry also had a great deal to do with the crusades to retake the Holy Land and Jerusalem, though it is questionable what kind of effect it had considering the raping, pillaging and wanton murder committed by the chivalrous knights.

The Chivalric Code

The Chivalric Code had a great effect on the relationship between men and women.  According to the code knights were to have a romantic devotion to women who was impossible for them to ever have a real relationship with.  This usually involved protecting and feeling this romantic devotion to a married woman.

One of the foundations of chivalry was the idea that a noble could not be a perfect knight unless he loved a lady.  The lady could not fight for herself but could have men fight for her.  Ladies exercised much more control behind the scenes in that time.  In most cases the way to gain power or money was through their champion.

Chivalry forced the knights to deal with women in a more respectful manner then they had in the past.  The following excerpt describes how women were to be treated before coda of chivalry.

She was the devil's temptress, alluring men to commit sins of the flesh, and was to be avoided so far as possible.  Celibacy was the highest human state and chastity one of man's chief virtues…They (women) married young, and aside from their importance as breeders, were important as wives chiefly for their dowry of land.

Although chivalry obviously didn't eliminate all of these problems of the treatment of women, it was able to dispel some of the ideas of the "devil's Temptress" and helped define a more civilized way to treat women. 

Chivalry also had small differences from country to country in Europe as well as in literature from different countries.  As mentioned earlier the word chivalry originated from a French term but when people think of chivalry the first story that comes to mind and introduces people to the idea of chivalry is the story of King Arthur and Camelot in England.  Much of this story focuses on chivalry and knights in shining armor as well as the courtly love.  French stories seem to have an even greater emphasis on the courtly love and romance of chivalry.  As times progressed and the practice of the ideals of chivalry seemed to become less important there were even more stories, especially French, of chivalry and knightly greatness seemingly to try to distract people from the lack of chivalrous behavior.

Chivalry as a whole though seemed to be a mixture of many countries ideas.  The dubbing of knights seemed to have started in a different form as a German tradition, the word is French, and the most recognizable literature is English.

In conclusion chivalry had effects on relations between the sexes which still are present and reflected in society today.  Whether good or bad it will continue to effect those relations into the future so long as there are stories of damsels in distress and young men willing to charge to the rescue.  Despite how unwelcome such male behavior may be in our feminist society, for the time, chivalry brought about great improvement in how women were treated.

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